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Five Bears questions with PFW publisher Hub Arkush

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Dan Parr

dparr@pfwmedia.com
Associate editor

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Posted Dec. 08, 2011 @ 11:09 a.m. ET
By Dan Parr

In this week's edition of "Five questions," PFW publisher/editor and Bears expert Hub Arkush says the Bears are making a big mistake by not signing Donovan McNabb and that Mike Martz deserves more credit than he receives.

1. Are the Bears making a mistake by sticking with Caleb Hanie at quarterback?

Arkush: They've had no choice until now, but they're making a huge mistake by not bringing in Donovan McNabb. Anything complex about their system was stripped out 6-8 weeks ago when they realized the lack of talent on the offensive line and at wide receiver didn't allow them to run it. The system that's left is no harder for a very experienced veteran to pick up than anyone else's and it's done all the time in 5-10 days. The reality is they may make the playoffs in spite of Hanie, who obviously can't play, and by then McNabb could be ready to give them a chance in a playoff game assuming Cutler isn't ready, and I doubt he will be. Worse yet, Hanie's bad enough they may blow an almost unblowable playoff spot, and when you look at the talent on the roster past the top 4-6 players, the arrow on this team is definitely not pointing north.

2. If Matt Forté can't go, will the Bears miss him in the passing game more than they will in the running game?

Arkush: It's hard to say. Barber is actually fairly proficient in both areas. His running style is very different than Forté's, but he was a starter for several years in Dallas and asked to both run and catch the football. The fact is Forté's production had really fallen off the last few weeks before the injury because defenses were focusing on him more having realized they didn't have to worry about a lot of the things the Bears had stopped trying because they couldn't block it or run the route. What the Bears need to do without Forté is not be afraid to pound away at teams with Barber even if it means running him five out of every seven plays a few times early in a game and eating a few three and outs to make a point and wear defenses down a bit with body punches.

3. What grade do you give Mike Martz for the job he's done thus far this season?

Arkush: I'm sure it'll surprise some folks but probably a B-minus to a C-plus. It amazes me how so many fans and media talk about what a great job the "Bears coaches" have done overcoming the talent shortcomings at OL, WR, DT and DB and individually credit every coach but Martz. Who do they think made the adjustments to the offense and created the plans Cutler and Forté were succeeding with? He may have had to be convinced or told by Lovie Smith to do what he wanted, but the bottom line is he did it and if you're going to heap praise and credit on Mike Tice, Dave Toub and Rod Marinelli, you have to give Martz some credit, too.

4. How do you see the Bears' defense faring against Tim Tebow?

Arkush: Very, very well! Over the last six weeks the Bears are actually the second best run "D" in the NFL and even with all that Tebow's accomplished so far, look at who he has accomplished it against and what large portions of those games he was ineffective or actually bad in. Tebow has never seen "bigs" who run like Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs, Julius Peppers and even Henry Melton and Amobi Okoye, who I don't think are very good at the three-technique but actually chase very well. If the Broncos can't find more than Willis McGahee and Tebow vs. the Bears, they're in big trouble.

5. What's your assessment of Nick Roach's performance this season?

Arkush: He's been almost invisible other than the Lions game at Soldier Field. Part of that is because Urlacher and Briggs lead the team in tackles and play from the other two linebacker positions, but part is that he just hasn't made many plays this year. I know the Bears like or at least think they may have something in J.T. Thomas and Pat Trahan, and it seems a safe bet they will bring in a veteran or two to compete with Roach at the strong-side 'backer spot next year as well.

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